Re: virus: Re:Strange attractors and meta-religions (was God

Mark Hornberger (
Sat, 05 Apr 1997 22:48:43 -0600

At 09:20 PM 4/4/97 EST, you wrote:
>Mark H. wrote:
>> Even for those whose withdrawal is just a response to a world they
>>don't feel comfortable in, I would say that having a 'thin skin' is also
>>something of a personality problem. There are a great number of
>>basketcases walking around out there, and I don't think we can blame all,
>>or even most, of them on society.
>> Someone with an inability to cope
>>effectively with everyday life does in fact have a problem, and that's just
>>it - it doesn't indicate that society is so incrediby horrible, but rather
>>that this person has a problem coping with reality.
>> I started
>>that particular coping mechanism when I started reading about Zen Buddhism,
>>and later Marcus Aurelius. I just get tired of everyone bemoaning about
>>how *horrible* everything is; there's no justice, etc. etc. People just
>>need to get over it.
>Mark--You have called people with problems coping with society "basketcases",
>yet you appear to be stuck in the same type of resignation. By saying that
>people who complain that "there is no justice" should "get over it", you
>that people should just passively accept the world the way it is. You are
>up, just like people in mental hospitals. What appears to be "thick skin"
>really be mental laziness. You seem to have swallowed bad memes of a 'Stoic'
>flavor. Did Marcus Aurelius do the Romans any good? -David
I admit I was being somewhat cavalier, but I stand by what I said. I
didn't say that we should give up - I think I said in an earlier post that
we are empowered to change our little corner of the world, and the lot of a
few people around us. By acting individually in our own lives to be better
people, we improve the lot of the world not only by adding one more decent
person but also by being an example and possibly inspiration for others.
But those I was referring to (the 'basketcase' remark) don't take this tact
at all - they see everything as part of the ever-downward spiral; *they*
are the fatalists, to my eyes. I have not 'given up' but rather gained
some perspective when I ask of everything "Is this significant; does it
really matter?" Usually the answer is no. I'm talking everyday life here,
not the extraordinary. There are situations, of course, that demand
response and adaptation, even from a stoic.

And yes, Marcus Aurelius did seem to benefit the Roman Empire - as much as
one man can effect the course of an entire civilization, even given his
station. According to Gibbon, the reign of the Antonines was the pinnacle
of Roman civilization - the decline resumed and accelerated after his
reign, starting with his son Commodus, who was an incredibly dissolute
tyrant, but you can't lay that at the feet of Aurelius' stoicism. You are
expecting too much from a man - he tried as best he could to be a good
person. That you don't find this sufficiently laudable goal is more a
testament to your fatalism about the human situation than it is to his or

Mark Hornberger